An international team of astronomers has discovered a new Earth-sized exoplanet, a distant world that could reveal the origin story of Mercury, one of the hottest planets of our solar system.
The new planet, dubbed K2-229b, sits some 339 light years away from us and orbits its star — a medium-sized active K dwarf in the Virgo Constellation — every fourteen hours. It’s nearly 20% larger than Earth, but the find doesn’t improve our chances of finding life-support on an alien planet.
This is because K2-229b is far from being in the habitable zone. The planet is located eerily close to its star, approximately a hundredth of the distance between Earth and sun, and makes one hell of a place to live where daytime temperatures going way beyond 2000°C.
An international team of astronomers using the K2 space telescope first spotted the distant world. Essentially, they took a close look at the light emitted from its host star and witnessed regular dimming periods. These dips hinted at the presence of an orbiting body or a planet, which came between the Earth and the distant star from time to time and blocked the light.
The group started employing sophisticated techniques to delve into the specifics of the newly discovered planet. They discovered K2-229b is just a little bigger than Earth, but its mass is two and a half times greater.
The most interesting bit, however, was the similarity between Mercury and the new planet. They both are not only metallic and extremely hot but also carry the same high-level of density.
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SOURCE: International Business Times, Shubham Sharma